Once upon a time, on the nineteenth night of February 2017, I had fallen fast asleep on my sofa. An issue of Sonic the Comic lay strewn out upon my face, its pages fluttering up and down in the makeshift breeze as my body gently breathed in and out. A fireplace roared away in the corner of the room as the quiet ticking of the grandfather clock permeated the silence. Eventually, the two hands pointed upwards and the simple staccato beats transformed into a melodic chime. A strange magic seemed to fill the air…
This weekend I had the opportunity to go hands on with Nintendo’s latest innovation – the console-meets-handheld hybrid known as the Switch!
At the 2 hour preview session at Boxxed in Birmingham, I was able to try out the machine in all of its different forms, as well as get to grips with a selection of launch window titles. The question is: from my brief play session with the Switch, do I think it will succeed where the Wii U faltered?
Read on, and find out!
Recently I wrote an article about my Top 5 Wii U games, which I posted on my blog a couple of weeks ago. While I still very much stand by my choices, in hindsight I think there’s one other game that’s at least deserving of an honourable mention. If only I’d actually played it by then! This isn’t a new game, but it is new to me… and I really wish I’d discovered this gem sooner.
We’ve all known it for a long time, but now it’s official: the Wii U is dead. As the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to Nintendo’s phenomenally successful Wii, it’s clear that the Wii U was an unmitigated failure. Whether that’s down to poor marketing, poor communication, poor third party support, or poor specs (or, indeed, a combination of the lot) – that’s beside the point. All that needs to be realised is that it was a flop, and Nintendo learned the hard way that they cannot cruise forward solely on the wave of previous achievements.
However, that’s not to say the Wii U was a bad console. Flawed and unloved, certainly. But bad? For all its faults, it had a pretty solid library of games. Arguably one of the strongest software line-ups for any console, in fact – certainly for first party Nintendo stuff. Basically, the Wii U wasn’t all terrible. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will – or at least ought to be – totally eclipsed by the imminent launch of the Switch, but before the death knell for the Wii U tolls its last, let’s have a quick look back on the top five games that made me feel my purchase was justified…
LEGO and Sonic the Hedgehog. Now there’s two things we never thought we’d see officially put together in the same product. Sure, maybe it’s not as earth-shattering a crossover as the Mario & Sonic series (I mean, who’d have ever seen that one coming, and at the Olympic Games no less?!), but it’s just as mind-bogglingly unthinkable. But, then again, almost anything is possible in the crazy world of TT Games’ LEGO Dimensions. You know what’s even crazier though? This bonkers mash-up of blue blurs and bricks is arguably the best thing to come out of Sonic’s 25th anniversary celebrations this year.
It’s no secret that I, like many other gamers out there, am a huge fan of the Paper Mario series. Well, most of the Paper Mario series, anyway. The N64 original was an absolute classic, mixing Mario’s traditional world with brilliant RPG mechanics. Its Gamecube sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, refined the formula even further and stands tall as one of my favourite games of all time. And then, after two phenomenal outings, the series took a turn for the experimental. Super Paper Mario on Wii was a solid if less remarkable platformer with RPG elements, but the franchise hit rock bottom a few years ago in Paper Mario: Sticker Star for 3DS. While not completely devoid of enjoyment, the game stripped away what made Paper Mario so different and so beloved: soul. Gone was the fleshed-out story, the quirky characters, and the intuitive battle system. It all but ran the reputation into the ground and since then, the most we’ve seen of Paper Mario has been a playable-yet-supporting role in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.
When Paper Mario: Color Splash was revealed for Wii U earlier this year, it was meant with instant disapproval (and yes, it completely irks me that they didn’t bother to spell “Colour” right for Europe). From its initial trailer alone, it was clear that this was a game very much built on the same foundations as Sticker Star – but did Nintendo manage to iron out the problems and prove that their bold new direction for the Paper Mario series is worth a second chance?
It’s often the case that you find hidden classics late into a games console’s life cycle – but they don’t come an awful lot later than this.
At the end of 2015, three years after it had been superseded by the Wii U, the last game for Nintendo’s phenomenally successful Wii console hit the shelves. Except it didn’t. Well, it did and it didn’t. That’s the thing about Rodea The Sky Soldier – it’s got a long and complicated development history that’s intriguing and baffling in equal measure. In short, the game was originally designed for the Wii, but was finished just as the new system was launching so was held back in favour of newly developed Wii U and 3DS versions instead. Now, courtesy of the Limited Edition set (still just about available on Nintendo’s UK Online Store) you can get both the Wii and Wii U versions of the game in one exclusive package. But, the question is: after all this time, has the game actually been worth the wait?
2010 was an interesting time to be a Sonic fan. At the start of the year, the franchise was at one of its lowest points, with jokes about the Sonic Cycle being thrown around every which way following the downward spiral of quality in the games – Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 2006, Sonic and the Black Knight… even 2008’s Sonic Unleashed, the closest thing to a step in the right direction we’d seen, was critically panned and bogged down by poor design choices. Luckily, there seemed to be a shining ray of light on the horizon, one that the entire fanbase was clinging their hopes onto, something that promised to set the series back on track at last…
Originally written in 2010 and 2012
Excerpt from my article for The Sonic Stadium regarding this exciting announcement!
What the brick?! We can’t believe it any more than you can, but it’s official – Sonic the Hedgehog will be making a surprise playable appearance in the block-buster toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions!
Announced as part of the title’s E3 2016 trailer, Sonic is seen racing in at the very end of the video, grabbing a golden ring away from the hands of Lord of the Ring’s Gollum who had mistaken it for his precioussss… but we’re afraid there can only be one king of the ring around these parts! Gotta speed, keed!
Sonic joins famous franchises including Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, and Portal 2 for all manner of high octane thrills and spills in the ultimate LEGO crossover game. Other new franchises announced at E3 2016 include Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Mission Impossible, and even The A-Team… but I pity the fool who doesn’t want to play as Sonic!
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Sonic has starred in a title developed by TT Games, at least in its former guise as Traveller’s Tales. Can we expect to see some Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R references in there somewhere, maybe…?
No details have been revealed yet regarding what form the content will take or when exactly it will be released, but we’re sure you’ll agree that this is certainly one heck of a way to get the 25th anniversary celebrations started!
To be continued…